The What’s News interview: Emily Danforth, author of a new novel
RIC assistant professor Emily Danforth, author of the newly released “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” will read from her book on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the college’s Faculty Center.
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is a coming-of-age novel intended for both young adult and adult audiences. The Los Angeles Times praised the book as a “powerful novel exploring the nature of sexual identity and whether it's a choice,” while NPR Books described it as “a skillfully and beautifully written story that does what the best books do: It shows us ourselves in the lives of others.”
In an email Q&A, Danforth discussed her book and coming to Rhode Island College. She also offered some advice for aspiring writers.
WN: How long did it take to get the book published?
Emily Danforth: I sold my novel to HarperCollins in April of 2010 and it was just published last week, so that was basically a two-year process (which is not at all unusual for debut novels).
However, if you count the time I took writing the novel (on and off from 2006 to the summer of 2009) and then working with my agent to shape it and find a publisher, a total of five+ years seems about right. What felt the longest though, no question, was the time between sale date and the actual publication date: those two years took forever!
Do you have an upcoming book tour scheduled? If so, which cities/ locations will you be traveling to?
I don't have an official book tour so much as a variety of stops I'll be making in various cities over the next several months. Sometimes I'll just be doing a reading and signing, other times I'll be at a summer writers conference or conducting a workshop.
I just returned from Hendrix College in Arkansas where I spent the latter half of my “release week” as a Murphy Visiting Writer. In March, I'll be reading as part of the Teen Book Festival in NYC, and then I'll have a reading in Boston in April.
This summer I'll be all over, from Lincoln, Nebraska to my home state (and the state in which the novel is set) of Montana.
What made you choose to work at RIC?
Oh, so many things: the warmth and enthusiasm of the faculty in the English Department, and also the impressive research and creative work they're doing; the chance to really help shape the creative writing program at RIC by advising the student lit magazine (Shoreline), which I'll be doing next year, and teaching a wide variety of workshops, from Intro to Creative Writing to a graduate course in the novel, which I'm teaching this semester; and the location, certainly.
I'm happy to admit that I'm quite smitten with both Providence in specific and Rhode Island in general. After five long years “landlocked” in Lincoln, Nebraska (as lovely a Midwestern college town as it truly is) I was ready for the coast! And I'm thrilled to be here.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Talent will only get you so far. It might get you noticed in a class or maybe even published in a literary journal, but talent alone does not make one's career as a writer: not even close. Stick-to-itness however – the willingness to face rejection and rally, to write and revise and repeat, to understand when a project just isn't going to work and let it go – particularly when coupled with talent, certainly can.
My best advice to aspiring writers is perhaps obvious but always worth repeating: read everything you can get your hands on. Really, read widely. Read books that challenge you, books that inspire you, upset you, make you scratch your head – books in all genres. Fiction writers should read poetry. Poets should read novels. Read, read, read. And then, get yourself into a routine and actually sit down to write. Talking about writing, thinking about writing, planning to write: none of this is writing.
It's useful to get a sense of the marketplace and to ask questions about the publication process, but don't put the cart before the horse. Focus on craft, remember what inspired you to write in the first place, and then do it. And do it a lot.
The Feb. 28 reading is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at RIC in conjunction with the English Cub and Bringing Books to Life student organizations.
For a more complete list of Danforth’s readings and events, check the readings page of her blog at http://somuchflotsam.tumblr.com/tagged/readings.